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Tuesday, Dec 14, 2004

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Jumbo lets Mallya bid for SWC liquor biz

Boby Kurian

Mr Mallya's entry into the bidding process for SWC's liquor business is significant as it could give him control over 60 per cent of the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) market.

Bangalore , Dec. 13

THE Jumbo Group has allowed the UB Group Chairman, Mr Vijay Mallya, to enter the bidding fray for Shaw Wallace & Co (SWC)'s liquor business, informed sources said.

The Dubai-based Jumbo Group, which manages SWC, had earlier stated it would not allow arch-rival UB into the bidding process, but changed stance following an intervention by its Chairperson, Ms Vidya Manohar Chhabria.

The UB Group, the country's leading and the world's fourth largest spirits marketer, has received the offer document from McKinsey Singapore, which has been mandated by Jumbo to call for bids, and is in the midst of preliminary moves to make a direct bid.

When contacted, a Jumbo Group official offered no comments on the development.

Mr Mallya's direct entry into the fray came as a surprise as it had earlier met with strong resistance from a section of the Manu Chhabria family, sources said.

Mr Mallya's entry into the bidding process for SWC's liquor business, the second largest domestic spirits operations, is significant as it could give him control over 60 per cent of the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) market. The UB Group currently accounts for 38.5 million cases in an overall domestic market estimated between 88 million cases to 90 million cases in annual depletions.

Jumbo's move to let in Mr Mallya makes him one of the strong contenders to grab the SWC business, which reported volume sales close to 15 million cases in 2003-04.

It was widely expected that Mr Mallya would place an indirect bid if Jumbo persisted with its decision to blank him out.

The other bidders in the fray include a consortium of investors led by Mr Ramesh Vangal, and possible bid by Ms Komal Chhabria Wazir, the second daughter of the Chhabria estate.

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